A Chinese man sends a text message on his cell phone in Beijing.
A Chinese man sends a text message on his cell phone in Beijing. - 
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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: China has the world's largest cell-phone market. And starting this week, if someone wants to buy one, they're going to have to hand over their personal information to the government.

As Marketplace's China Bureau Chief Rob Schmitz reports, the new law is getting mixed reviews.

ROB SCHMITZ: There are 814 million cell-phone subscribers in China, and up to now, most of them bought prepaid SIM cards. It was as quick and easy as buying a bowl of noodles. Now the government is making China's mobile operators register all their users.

Here in Shanghai -- where everyone from school kids to old men seem to be texting each other -- the reaction was mixed. A woman who would only give her surname, Tang, wasn't thrilled.


I'm just going to wait until the last minute to register my phone, she said. She didn't want to explain why.

But the anonymity the Chinese have enjoyed up to now has given a lot of freedom -- including the freedom to text politically sensitive jokes and to photograph public demonstrations without fear of punishment. Not any more.

But businessman Mao Shui Ping isn't worried.


Mao says the new law is a good idea. He says he lost his phone once, and because it was registered, he got it back.

The government says its implementing the new policy to help cut down on cell-phone fraud and spam.

In Shanghai, I'm Rob Schmitz for Marketplace.

Follow Rob Schmitz at @rob_schmitz